District 3 Blog
Technology, Traffic, and why we're cool
Let's talk technology.
First, let's discuss this blog. Here in District 3, our district blog has over 600 subscribers. I was curious how this stacked up with other districts citywide and it turns out this ranks us 2nd out of 20 districts. Go us!! Since I'm sure you're wondering who number 1 is, I'll tell you. Unsurprisingly, the Willy St-Marquette area has us beat in blog subscribers. Hmmph. Well, being 2nd out of 20 isn't bad. I'm so proud to represent this avidly-involved area.
Speaking of this blog, this is my best way to disperse info to the district. This means that I do not post city-related messages such as replies or clarifications on nextdoor.com. In fact, I'm not allowed to. We discussed this several months ago but it bears re-mentioning. Posting city-related business in a privately-owned forum like a social media website may violate open records laws.
Consider this hypothetical: say that a resident wants to find out everything I said about issue xyz. S/he would file an open records request and city staff would pull everything I said on that issue from my alder email account and my district blog. Staff could ask nextdoor.com for archived posts for everything on my account and nextdoor could tell staff to get lost. I'm not saying they would, but they could. Without the records from nextdoor, the open records request would be incomplete. This really goes against the whole spirit of open records laws and the tradition of ready transparency we have cultivated here in Madison.
So there's your unofficial legal analysis. My hope is that this sheds light on why you never see me on nextdoor unless it's unrelated to city matters. Because I know you've noticed this and are concerned... :) :)
More tech talk: as we consider proposed commercial and residential development I typically pass along floor plans and other drafts. My aim in passing these along is for folks who have time conflicts during neighborhood meetings to stay informed and engaged. I tend to pass these along in portable document format, or PDF. While the significant majority of us have a pdf program on our computer perhaps not all of us do and perhaps we don't all understand how this works. As such, here's a link to download a pdf program for free. Once you download this program you'll be able to open the pdf files I include in this blog.
Pro tip: You may want to consider unchecking the boxes in the middle column of that screen so that you download only the program and no extra fluff.
Speaking of passing along plans...
Grandview North and Metrotech Proposals
Last week we had a great turnout from the eastern half of our district (beware Heritage Heights and Rolling Meadows, the Sprecher neighborhoods are giving you a strong run in terms of turnout and engagement) to discuss a 94 unit multi-family development in the Grandview North neighborhood and a senior living community with a mixed use element (such as a coffee shop, potentially) in the Metrotech area.
Here are the plans for the proposed developments.
Grandview North Proposal:
We had a great discussion about the needs of this neighborhood and how these proposed developments may fit or not fit into those needs.
Whenever a neighborhood gets together about a given topic, other topics inevitably come to the surface. I'm glad we got a chance to give vent to some issues many of us have been feeling with respect to traffic in the neighborhood. Please see the section below for further discussion on that.
Moving back to the proposals, the multi-family development would sit on a land parcel which is already zoned for multi-family development which means it needs to clear fewer hurdles in the city process. The senior community would sit on a land parcel which is not zoned for quite this type of development so it would have more hurdles. In either case, there are a lot of opportunities for public input. We will have at least one more neighborhood meeting this summer before the projects go to the Urban Design Commission for consideration and I will of course keep you updated on dates and times.
Please take a look at the plans and chime in with your thoughts. Input can be anything from 'I'd rather have wider buildings with fewer stories,' to 'I want to know how this got zoned for multi-family residential space,' to 'I hate that color design, please change it' to 'I'm concerned about on street parking related to this development,' to 'I'm against this development no matter what,' to 'I had the idea for this development first but aliens stole it,' or any other concern you may have, big or small. Unlike aliens, I am unable to read minds so I truly appreciate you emailing me your input.
Traffic in the Milwaukee/Sprecher Area
Without deviating from our stated agenda for our neighborhood meeting too much, we definitely uncovered a lot of intense thoughts on traffic. I'm glad we had a chance to do that as it helps shape my work and priorities on your behalf.
Working from west to east, let's begin with the Milwaukee Street Bridge. Good news!! The DOT will redo the bridge in 2018 (It had been bumped back to 2019 from 2017 but then it got moved up to 2018), widening the surface 5 feet per lane and creating considerably less terrifying bike lanes and sidewalks. It will still be just the one lane each direction but widening things out will help a lot.
As the Grandview North neighborhood develops (with or without the proposed multi-family development), traffic will only get to be more of an issue on Milwaukee Street between the interstate and Sprecher Road. It's not uncommon for the city to require developers to fork over funds to build roads or additional roads in conjunction with new developments and while I can't speak for sure for city engineering, it's likely that we could add an extra turn lane turning south from Milwaukee St into the Grandview North neighborhood. This would alleviate some of the back up that we're already seeing in this area during peak traffic times.
What I heard at our meeting last week was a strong desire for traffic to move efficiently but safely in this area, and no conversation would be complete without roundabouts. Based on suggestion from many residents, I am currently in communication with city engineering to add traffic calming roundabouts on Milky Way. As Milky Way has become a more major north to south route between Milwaukee Street and Cottage Grove Road, there is a good deal of concern that folks are going too fast for safety. I believe roundabouts add to the aesthetic of a neighborhood more than speed tables and are easier on vehicles, and a straw poll of those in attendance last week preferred roundabouts to speed tables. If you have strong opinions about traffic calming, please let me know before we get too far into this process. Thus far I have heard universal support for calming traffic on Milky Way.
Also on the topic of traffic volume we identified a great deal of frustration on the Milwaukee St/Sprecher Rd intersection and the Sprecher Rd/Hwy T intersection during peak traffic times. We discussed the possibility of creating a roundabout at Milwaukee St and Sprecher Road to alleviate some of this pressure and I will work with city engineering to explore this possibility.
Finally, a word about goats. As you drive east on Milwaukee Street over the interstate or west toward the bridge you no doubt notice the beautiful farmland around you, including some goats and sheep. I don't know about you, but it feels like I'm driving on a county highway when I'm on that stretch of road. It's important for us to keep in mind that the speed limit is still just 35 mph through that stretch. As we discussed last week, high speeds in that area, either eastward toward Grandview North or westward toward the established residential section of Milwaukee Street, are not making anybody safer. While it's very easy to speed up in this stretch, maintaining safe speeds was one thing we identified at our meeting we could each do to help make that stretch of road safer.
Thanks for staying with me for a long email and giving these important topics your reflection and consideration. Talk with you again soon and be well.
Alder, District 3
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